Aberdeen reaction: Surprise man of the match, Dons reality check, keeper up for corner klaxon
Motherwell were excellent as they defeated Aberdeen 3-2 on Saturday. Joel Sked looks back at the entertaining action at Pittodrie as the sides served up a five-goal thriller.
Man of the match
Normally this goes to a player. Now, there were plenty of candidates from Motherwell. Bevis Mugabi was commanding. Read the game so well, came up in big moments with blocks, won his headers and barely put a foot wrong. Blair Spittal played a blinder from the left, opening the scoring. Paul McGinn was the solid, reliable presence many know he can be. Then there was Dean Cornelius. He put in a performance which suggests he can make a real name for himself under Steven Hammell. Assertive, given licence to break forward, get on the ball and play.
But it is Hammell who deserves the accolade.
There is much made about loyalty in football, especially when it comes to managers. It works both ways. Graham Alexander should be appreciated for the job he did in taking over from Stephen Robinson and turning around the club's fortunes on the pitch. But even in finishing fifth last season, there were concerning signs. They barely won a game after New Year. They weren't fun to watch. They were a middling Premiership side at best. But the issue was that it seemed they were regressing, not progressing. It would have been a brave decision but making a managerial change in the summer would have been shrewd.
Now Motherwell are here where they have promoted within to bring Steven Hammell in to replace Alexander. Losing to St Johnstone was not good, not good at all. But there were really positive signs against Aberdeen where it seemed the players were getting in tune with what the new boss wants. They have to flip a switch from being reactive to being proactive.
The Steelmen attacked with numbers, intensity and purpose. If they left Pittodrie having won 5-2 it wouldn't have been undeserved.
Hammell is someone who communicates well and has a clear idea. Personable, likeable and switched on, he hasn’t been outwardly critical of the previous management team, he’s simply expressed how he wants the team to change under him. Going by what he said and from the evidence of defeating Aberdeen, it will be much more enjoyable for the Well fans.
A deep breath and go again
A “reality check” is what Aberdeen boss Jim Goodwin called it.
Let's not beat about the bush, the Dons were mince. Anthony Stewart and Ylber Ramadani struggled in what was a collective failing across the pitch.
When, as this writer has done, has waxed lyrical about both team and individual performances, it is only fair to note what was a rubbish display. What this suggests is the need for a bit of balance, a bit of calm.
Aberdeen are not the real deal or the complete package, yet, despite overcoming Stirling Albion, Raith Rovers, Peterhead, Dumbarton and St Mirren. Nor are they back to being a club without direction after a loss to Motherwell.
What they are is a team which is still a work in progress. Goodwin was reluctant to use the 'still gelling’ as an excuse. It would have been easy to do so as that is the truth. Nine of the 11 summer signings were, while there have been injuries in the past two games which has forced a tweak to the team.
Aberdeen are better than last season, they are going in the right direction but they are not the finished article, not that anyone at Aberdeen believed that after a positive League Cup group stage.
There are areas of concern. Against Raith, against St Mirren then against Motherwell the team started slowly. On Saturday, they never got into a rhythm. They need to be more switched on, to assert themselves and settle in a more efficient and effective manner. Moving Ross McCrorie back to the centre of the park will allow them to have that all-action force which may just give the team that platform to get a foothold early on.
Aberdeen issued a statement condemning recent fan behaviour in the Red Shed and outside the ground. The use of pyro, damage to seats and frames, while an object was thrown at the St Mirren supporters' bus, all came under scrutiny. A lot of that should be condemned, namely objects thrown and damage to infrastructure, while discussions should take place sooner rather than later regarding the safe use of pyro and safe-standing areas. Believe it or not, when fans are watching such an emotive game they like to stand, not be consigned to a seat.
However, despite the defeat to Motherwell, the Red Shed demonstrated why it has been such a positive change at Pittodrie. They contributed to an excellent game with plenty of noise and colour. As the Well Bois do at Fir Park.
There are, of course, policing and stewarding concerns that play a part but the sooner fans and clubs can get on the same page across Scottish football with regards to bringing a raucous atmosphere, the better it will be for the product as a whole.
Goalkeeper up for a corner klaxon
What was a hugely entertaining game was treated to the fun addition of a goalkeeper chucked up late on to rescue a point.
Kelle Roos was summoned from goal to the Motherwell box where it was hoped his spring and size would cause havoc. It didn’t. But nonetheless it is always great to see. Because of that bit of tension, that bit of ‘what if’ of a goalkeeper getting on the end of a corner and finding the back of the net.
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